Ottawa on the Cusp of Free Agency

With the NHL free agency period beginning tomorrow, the Senators are looking to address a pair of specific needs.  The factors to keep in mind: Ottawa is in the first year of a rebuild.  Teams always overpay for free agents, especially teams in smaller markets like Ottawa.  The Senators have repeatedly said they have no interest in expensive free agent talent and are only looking for a backup goaltender and a top-six forward.  Bryan Murray has also said he doesn’t want to sign key players who are at the end of their careers, so at least for the forward the player will be in their prime.  It also makes no sense to sign a back-up who will challenge Craig Anderson (that’s Robin Lehner’s job).

[Ultimately, Ottawa goes with a blast from the past in signing Alex Auld who was with the club in 2008-09.]
Mathieu Garon – 32, Clb, 36-10-14-6, 2.72, 0.901, 1.2 million
[As per TSN Tampa Bay has signed Garon,!/tsnbobmckenzie]
Capable of taking over the starting role for short periods of time.  He’s affordable and the best backup in the UFA crop to my mind.
Josh Harding – 27, Min, 25-9-12-0, 3.05, 0.905, 1.2 million
[TSN reports Minnesota has re-signed Harding,!/tsnbobmckenzie]
Coming off some injury problems in Minnesota.  Once a top prospect, he’s settled into a back-up role for the Wild.  When he’s healthy, he’s someone who is capable of taking over the starting role for limited periods of time.
Ty Conklin – 35, Stl, 25-8-8-4, 3.22, 0.881, 1.3 million
[Detroit has signed Conklin,–wings-sign-conklin-after-osgood-s-retirement]
Career back-up coming off a terrible season in St. Louis.  He’s a good team guy  and won’t command much money.

Top-Six Forward
Jussi Jokinen – 28 C/LW, Car, 70-19-33-52, 1.7 million
[Carolina has reportedly re-signed Jokinen,]
In his prime and would fit nicely in the puck-possession style the team wants; it’s unknown if he’d want to go to a rebuilding team.
Tomas Fleischmann – 27 C/LW, Col, 45-12-19-31, 2.6 million
[TSN reports Florida has signed Fleischmann,!/tsnbobmckenzie]
Serious health problems are a concern, but they would also cut down his salary demands.
Scottie Upshall – 27 LW/RW, Clb, 82-22-12-34, 2.25 million
[TSN reports Minnesota has signed Upshall,!/tsnbobmckenzie]
There are reasons he’s bounced around the NHL, but Upshall has skill and would provide energy.
Ville Leino – 27 LW/RW, Phi, 81-19-34-53, 0.8 million
[As per TSN Buffalo has signed Leino,!/tsnbobmckenzie]
Would he come to a rebuilding team?  I suspect Leino wants to win the Cup, so is unlikely to want to come to Ottawa.

I favour Garon and either Leino or Jokinen, but it’s entirely possible Ottawa signs no forwards at all and have to dive into the lower end of the back-up goaltender pool.